Taking Artificial Eyes to East Timor

Andrew Maver from the East Timor Eye Program – a voluntary group of ophthalmologists, optometrists and nurses – contacted us recently for help. Through the Program’s regular visits to East Timor, a young woman from Dili came to their attention.

This young woman has an extensively scarred cornea which has greatly affected the appearance of her eye. With no artificial eye services in the country, and knowing that we run a six-monthly clinic in Darwin, Andrew hoped that we might see this woman at the next scheduled Darwin clinic with a view to providing her with a cosmetic shell. Naturally, money in this part of the world is scarce. The East Timor Eye Program would have to organise fundraising to cover her travel and accomodation to Darwin. I have offerred to make the prosthesis for free.

Andrew sent me a photo of the eye. From the picture, I could see that a haptic lens might work for her. To make things easier all round, I suggested to Andrew that I travel to East Timor after the Darwin clinic. By being in Dili, I could see a number of people and provide a service that is currently unavailable.

Hopefully the East Timor Eye Program will help to find me a dental laboratory to use while I’m there. As making an artificial eye isn’t the end of the process, I hope to train a dental technician how to polish the eyes so that clients can have their prostheses maintained regularly to eliminate discomfort.

The Program is attempting to do something else for us. Eight year old Liliana was a victim in a church bombing in East Timor. A group of people organised for her to come to Perth in 2000 where Paul made an artificial eye for her. We’re concerned about her, because by now she’ll be needing a new eye. By combining our efforts, we’re hoping to find Liliana so that I can make her a new eye when I’m over there at the end of February next year.

The overall aim of the East Timor Eye Program is to assist East Timor to become self-sufficient in the provision of eye care services, and to ensure that preventable blindness conditions are eradicated. To find out more, you can visit their website

More information on Making Artificial Eyes.

One Response to “Taking Artificial Eyes to East Timor”

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  1. Avatar for Julia Julia says:

    Jenny the East Timor Eye Program sounds like a great thing to do. I think you will get so much from your visit there. I hope you can find the young girl you are looking for and make her that new eye. Have you considered speaking to some journalists in East Timor? They will have lots of local contacts who might be able to help. Good luck. I am looking forward to hearing how you go.

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